The Kentucky Wildcats followed up their best performance of the season against Fort Wayne with an even-better outing against UIC.
After erupting for a season-high 86 points on Wednesday, the Cats reached that mark and then some in a 107-73 win over the Flames on Sunday. Kevin Knox finished with a career-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, but he was one of six Cats to reach double figures in this offensive onslaught.
Nick Richards becomes the sixth Wildcat to reach double figures in scoring. First time UK has had six players reach double figures in scoring since Nov. 28, 2016.— CoachCal.com (@CoachCalDotCom) November 27, 2017
It was the first time Kentucky has scored 100-plus points since a January 3rd vs Texas A&M last season.
Here are three things to know:
Another Fast Start
Slow starts are becoming a thing of the past for the young and improving Cats. For the second straight game, Kentucky’s offense was firing on all cylinders to start a game. After hitting 11 of their first 13 shots against Fort Wayne, the Cats started 8-of-12 from the field against the Flames, and they kept right around that 75-percent range for much of the night.
The Cats also had a great start on the defensive end, forcing seven UIC turnovers in the first six minutes. These fast starts have helped kill the momentum and confidence of teams and made these wins that fans didn’t have to stress over late into the second half.
Kentucky ended up shooting an absurd 76 percent on two-pointers in the first half. They kept that going in the second half, and at one point, the Cats were on pace for a record-breaking night in the John Calipari era:
Kentucky shot 66.7 percent tonight, the second-best shooting percentage in the Calipari era.— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 27, 2017
UK hit 67.7 percent of its shots against LIU Brooklyn on Nov. 23, 2012. pic.twitter.com/g59ls1k10b
They were having their way, and it was a joy to watch.
Quade Green was known as a low-turnover point guard coming out of high school, but college is a different game, and we’re seeing Quade adjust. After committing just one turnover in his first three games, Green has now committed three-plus turnovers in four-straight games. He committed three in this game by the 12:43 mark in the first half, but he did improve and finish with just four in the whole game.
Green is still making great progress in the scoring department, but he’s got to cut down on turnovers for Kentucky to stand a chance against better teams. He’s got a ways to go before he can survive a matchup with someone like Louisville or West Virginia.
But Green isn’t the only one with a case of the turnover bug. The Cats were very careless with the ball in this one, but they were also far too aggressive on offense at times and had way too many offensive fouls, which led to 15 total turnovers.
Those mistakes were really the only thing that kept UIC from getting buried going into halftime, though they eventually got there after Kentucky cleaned up the mistakes in the second half.
Hami Bounces Back
There wasn’t any doubt who Kentucky’s MVP was through the first three games. As the Cats got off to sluggish starts against Utah Valley, Vermont and Kansas, the one consistent was Hamidou Diallo, who score in double figures in each of his first three games while averaging 16 points and 3.3 assists per game.
However, Diallo cooled off and averaged just 7.3 points and 1.3 assists over his next three games. But Diallo got back on track against UIC thanks to an 11-point first half, which included a thunderous jam that got Rupp Arena rocking:
Hamidou Diallo cleared for takeoff! pic.twitter.com/dFg07tYJoo— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) November 26, 2017
Diallo finished with a career-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with four assists. What made it even better was Diallo didn’t force much and allowed his teammates to get going, and it led to near-record-breaking day.
Here is the final box score:
Now, let’s celebrate and discuss!